November 4, 2010 (Lakeside) – A crowd of 240 people turned out for the Lakeside River Park Conservancy’s “Once in a Blue Moon” fundraiser, held beneath a canopy of twinkle lights along the San Diego River in Lakeside.
“It was a great success and always a lot of fun,” said Cindy Collins, membership and volunteer coordinator. The event raised about $12,000, she added. Lakeside's River Park Conservancy was founded in 2001 with the mission to preserve and restore the biological integrity and beauty of the San Diego River while integrating recreational, education, and cultural opportunities for youth, seniors, and families East San Diego County.
The segment of the San Diego River in Lakeside had long been the focus of extensive sand mining operations and heavy industry. Such industrial operations are coming to an end and a new phase in the river's life is at hand; one in which nature and humanity work in harmony and regional quality of life is enhanced.
Phase One restoration of the San Diego River was completed January 2007 which included removal of a constriction in the San Diego River by restoring a 30 foot channel to 100 feet to allow for the safe passage of floodwaters. This restoration also created 4 acres of constructed wetlands designed to use phytoremediation (sun and plants) as a natural filtration system to treat storm water and urban run off flows (pollution) entering the site at the mouth of Los Coches Creek (a large 17 square mile tributary) as it enters into the San Diego River on its way to the Pacific Ocean.
Phase Two of the restoration process has also been completed. Cal-trans took approximately 450,000 cubic yards of fill dirt from the south side (next to highway 67)…saving tax payers about $6 million. This dirt will be used as fill in the construction of the Highway 52 extension. If the road construction remains on schedule, this new extension will be open in 2011.
The removal of the dirt lowered the ground level to allow for the natural river bottom to re-emerge. This new wetland is expected to provide habitat for many animals and birds and also provide additional water storage areas during floods. Many threatened and endangered species reside at the River Park and with more habitat, the Park will attract even more species such as the California Gnatcatcher and the least Bell's vireo, organizers said.
The first stage of the San Diego River Trail was opened May 17, 2008. The second stage of the trail will be started this year and will ending at the new baseball park. A date for the trail extension opening has not been set yet. The current trail includes an observation deck and a lower over-look.
Over 200 volunteers donated more than 23,000 hours towards this project. If you would like to volunteer please contact Cindy Collins at email@example.com or by calling 619-443-4770.
For more info on the River Park, please visit our website at www.lakesideriverpark.org.